I came on this show on one of my usual internet cruises; always looking out for new UK period dramas, and well, THE BRETTS is a doozy! Of course, it isn't actually new, per se...it's from 1981, but it's new to me, certainly! It's about a family of actors headed by the charming philanderer Charles and his fun-yet-mercurial wife Lydia, and their complicated and amusing lives in the theatre in the 1920's.
If I were to compare it in scale to other shows, I would say that it lives in that space between the serious drama of UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS and THE DUCHESS OF DUKE STREET, and the more farcical YOU RANG, M'LORD. Honestly I don't know much about the lives of actors at that time. It's interesting here, because this show bares the darker underbelly of the stage, and the morally mobile workings of those involved. The various melodramas that I've experienced with actors in my personal life as a musician, show the things that the Bretts go through to ring true.
The bulk of the drama seems to be generated by Charles' rakish, philandering spirit, and Lydia's moving between tolerance of him and complete disdain for his irresponsible ways. Everything always seems to balance out in the end., and very nicely. The cast, including the funny and hilariously patient servants, are well-played and uniformly interesting. Charles and Lydia's adult children are varied in temperment, and they play nicely off their idiosyncrasies. Honestly, they feel like they had all actually lived together all of their lives.
The Bretts are basically low-range toffs, with a crisp received pronunciation and relatively cultured manners...but behind it all lurks the normal wildnesses of the human being. They're all very charming in their own way; light, urbane, witty and sarcastic, and they fly through every challenge in a fun way. I like the Bretts. They're an interesting group to spend time with.